This is a query letter to This Rock. A query letter is a 1-page pitch for an article. It's SOP for magazines.
Any comments on grammar, content, etc. would be much appreciated. (Should magesterial infallibility be capitalized? )
June 21, 2007
2020 Gillespie Way
El Cajon, California 92020-0407
Dear Mr. Ryland,
Between 254A.D. and 257A.D., Pope Stephen defended orthodoxy with respect to both baptism and his own authority in a single decision that stands as the most underrated in Christian history.
Pope Stephen’s decision has been largely overlooked by Catholic apologists as a means for persuading mainline Protestants that sola scriptura is wrong and magisterial infallibility is right. Today, there is no disagreement among mainline Protestants and Catholics as to what constitutes a valid Christian baptism. Baptism is valid if it involves the application of water, and is performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with the intention of doing what Jesus commanded. Cyprian and others took the unorthodox position that the baptism of heretics was invalid, simply because they were in schism. They defended this position by appealing to Scripture over the authority of the Roman episcopate. It was Stephen who preserved orthodoxy by asserting the validity of any Trinitarian baptism. And he defended his own authority to make this decision with an appeal to Matthew 16:18.
All of us, both Catholic and Protestant, place our hope for Christian unity in our common baptism. Where would we be today if Cyprian had prevailed? Mainline Protestantism requires one to believe that Stephen indeed made a very wise (and scripturally sound) decision on the issue of heretical baptism, but that he grossly misinterpreted Matthew 16:18 in defending his own authority to make that very same decision. This strains credibility. Is there any way that Stephen came to the right conclusion about baptism apart from the Wisdom of God? Would God have granted His Wisdom to a man who would, virtually in the same breath, attempt to seize for himself authority that rightly belonged to scripture alone?
Cyprian loved God and His Word. His stance on the issue of baptism was motivated not by moral rigidity but by compassion. He only wanted to give people an assurance of the forgiveness of their sins. Does this remind you of anyone else in Church history?
I have developed this idea more fully in an article entitled, “Sola Scriptura vs. Magisterial Infallibility: How Baptismal Unity Was Preserved in the Early Church.” I believe this article is well suited for the “Classic Apologetics” section of This Rock.
If such an article would be of interest to you, please send me the requirements for the column. I will tailor the material to meet your needs. Thank you for taking the time to consider my idea.
His servant and yours,